Global Brass & Copper Inc., East Alton,
Ill., the former Olin Corp. metals business acquired by New
York-based KPS Capital Partners LP, has named John H. Walker as
chief executive officer.
Walker, who previously served as chief
executive of Weirton Steel Corp. and president of rolled
products at Kaiser Aluminum Corp., Foothill Ranch, Calif., sees
key opportunities in the new role.
"What attracted us to the business is that it
is a phenomenal brand name with a leading position in many
markets," Walker said. "The assets have been maintained and had
investments made in them," he said. "We like the work force as
One advantage of being a standalone business
is that the metals operations will no longer have to compete
within Olin's structure for resources. "We believe a focus on
the metals business will find opportunity," Walker said, citing
as an example Global's Eco Brass product, a lead-free plumbing
material winning favor among consumers.
High-performance alloys also offer
opportunities, he said. "We have the only research and
development facility in North America developing these alloys,"
Walker said. While these alloys have already achieved domestic
penetration, continued use in the U.S. auto sector also will
help bolster business, he added.
Walker said his major challenge will be to
ensure that Global Brass has the lowest possible cost structure
in an industry still dealing with overcapacity. "This is an
environment in which there is a tremendous need to increase
efficiencies," he said.
The downturn in the U.S. residential building
sector will have a greater pull on the rod and bar business
than on the flat-rolled operations, which have much less
exposure to the current downturn. For Walker, it will be all
about costs. "It will be necessary to maintain control of costs
through the down period," he said.
KPS completed its $400-million purchase of
the Olin metals business in November.